Tomorrow (Tuesday, October 22), I begin a clinical trial at TN Oncology/Sarah Cannon Research Institute in Nashville. The study drug directly targets a particular protein on the cancer cells, and my first day will be a long one (8-9 hours) as the drug’s progression and absorption into my body will be carefully monitored.
I’m doing this because for the first time since my diagnosis, a test came back positive for something that may have a treatment. From almost the very beginning, I’ve had cancer of unknown origin, and that meant having treatments for which the outcome was also unknown. In my case, chemotherapy did reduce the size of the tumors and lower the C-125 cancer marker, but nothing offered a permanent solution. Once the chemotherapy treatments ended, the numbers went back up.
I still don’t have a definite diagnosis. There is, however, a definite identifiable protein on my cancer cells for which a drug company has developed an antibiotic. The trial began with test animals in a lab, with 23 humans in the initial phase, and now with about 30-50 humans in an extended phase—and I’m one of those humans! For those who have questions, this clinical trial is open-dosing (doctor and others know what/how much drug is given), and everyone who is in the trial gets the drug with no one receiving a placebo. The trial exists to see if this drug can be effective in treating this type of cancer, and I am praying that it will be and that the study drug can become an effective FDA-approved treatment for cancers with this particular protein. The trial itself is FDA-approved and very carefully monitored, and I’m grateful to have qualified. Only three facilities have been selected for this trial, of which Sarah Cannon is one. Whoo hoo!
This past week I had several scans and studies and labs, and I found my emotions fluctuating between feeling overwhelmed to feeling encouraged. The initial phase of the trial is for the drug to be infused through my port for 4 weeks and then blood work and oncologist visits for the next 4 weeks. The treatment will be considered effective for me if my tumors shrink or do not grow, at which point I can be approved to continue receiving the drug in cycles of three weeks infusion and one week off. All I’m thinking about is tomorrow, however, and about being a good patient and complying with the requirements of the trial study.
Nervous and excited and somewhat anxious and definitely ready—that’s what I’m feeling right now.
My experiences of the last 15 years have refined my ability to wait, which is another way of saying that I continue to have lots of opportunities to trust God and that He is still teaching me how to wait. While tomorrow I’ll have someone with me all day, I won’t need to take anything to “do.” I’ll be waiting, and I’ll be thanking the Lord for another opportunity to know His presence in a very real way—whatever the outcome of this next phase of treatment.
I am grateful for your prayers and your encouragement and your love for my family and for me. I close with these verses from my favorite psalm:
Hear my voice when I call, LORD;
be merciful to me and answer me.
My heart says of you, “Seek his face!
Your face, LORD, I will seek. …
I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD. Psalm 27: 7-8, 13-14